Collecting the Fennel Seed

Regardless of weather or lack of summer, the herb garden has been a great success, establishing and growing quickly in our front garden. The fennel herb has been great at masking an unsightly utility box, and in the autumn cold is starting to dry out and crisp up. So, with scissors in hand and a willing assistant in the shape of Andrew I braved the low autumn sun that blinds your eyes, and started to harvest the seed heads. Though some have already scattered in the winds or in the beaks of birds, it is quickly clear that we have more than we need.

Fennel seed harvest

The great thing about harvesting fennel seed when dry, is that hardly any of the aromatic scent is gone or the taste, and when they are green they can be munched straight from the plant and will help with indigestion, and bad breath. This may be why we have some by the front door, a polite way to get guests to freshen their breath before leaving us. I mean, we do like our garlic at Pig Row but we don't want guests never to visit us again because they stunk out their office.

How to harvest fennel seed

It's a quick job stripping the seed from the plant, and the dried stalks can be used to start the fire in the stove, they will bring a little aroma to the front room.

Fennel seed harvest

Fennel seed

The bowl is soon filling up and after ten minutes the last of the stalks have been decanted into the bowl. I pick out any stalk or brash, there's no bugs in there to worry about because by now they have all gone into hibernation. This week has seen the first hard frost followed by a series of hoar frosts.

Harvesting the last of the herbs

In the end we have a jar of fennel seeds to use in aromatic dishes and cakes over the winter months. Just opening the jar is a heady affair. I ask Andrew if we need to label the jar and he points out if you don't know what they are when you open them then you shouldn't be growing herbs.

How to store fennel seed

He's right, there's no denying the aniseed smell of fennel seed that coats my hands for days afterwards.


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